Researchers from the School of Nursing and Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering are teaming up to improve safety on construction sites in Southern Nevada.
Starting this spring, UNLV will offer a fall-prevention and safety training program specifically targeting the local construction workforce. Funded through a $287,000 grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the program will be open to all construction workers but will target Latino workers - a group that suffers disproportionately from workplace injury and death.
A Need for Training
Fall-related deaths accounted for more than one-third of all construction fatalities in Nevada since 2003. In recent years, deaths at high-profile local construction sites have garnered attention from both media and the federal government and have driven many in the industry to step up safety efforts.
"There are requirements in place for construction managers to train employees exposed to fall hazards, but the incidence of deaths and injuries from falls indicate that not enough is being done," said Nancy Menzel, project director and associate professor of nursing. "This deficiency is especially true for immigrant construction workers, so health and safety professionals need to step in to provide the information and skills these workers need to protect themselves from falls."
UNLV's team of occupational health and construction management experts will design and evaluate the effectiveness of the new program over a two-year period. The team also will produce safety awareness materials in both English and Spanish to reinforce the training.
Simulated Scenarios = Real Learning
To reflect the realities of a job site, the program will use simulation as a training strategy. For example, instead of only showing pictures of a fall arrest system or demonstrating its proper use, trainees will practice using the system under a simulated stress environment.
Training will consist of two four-hour sessions, held at UNLV. Topics will include fall protection requirements, scaffold safety/set-up, equipment inspections, and assertiveness training.
"Many factors can play into the improper use of safety equipment, such as feeling pressed for time, the inability to ask questions in English, or damaged and ill-fitting equipment," said Pramen Shrestha, co-project director and assistant professor of construction management. "Trainees need to have confidence that, if they recognize a poor safety situation, they have the right and ability to demand safety equipment prior to proceeding."
Free for All Local Construction Workers
More than 750 workers will participate in the training. The UNLV project is part of OSHA's Susan Harwood Training Grant, which supports programs that educate workers and employers in industries with high hazard and fatality rates, workers with limited English proficiency, and small business employers. The training is free and open to all construction workers in Southern Nevada. Contact Menzel at 702-895-5970 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.